Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 15, 2018

London Times articles about Assadist university professors

Filed under: Academia,Syria — louisproyect @ 1:42 pm

(Since these articles are behind a paywall, I am posting them in full here since they would be of interest to my readers.)

London Times, April 14, 2018
Professors ‘shut down debate’ over Assad’s chemical attacks
by Georgie Keate

When Idrees Ahmad read the letter of complaint against him, he was baffled to see it written on University of Sheffield headed paper.

The authors were members of a recently formed organisation called the Syria, Propaganda and Media (SPM) group, whose stated aim was to “facilitate research with respect to the 2011-present war in Syria”.

They objected to Dr Ahmad, a lecturer in digital journalism at Stirling University, criticising an article written by Tim Hayward, an Edinburgh professor of political theory and one of their key members. Professor Hayward had argued on his blog that “independent investigators” such as Vanessa Beeley, a pro-Assad journalist in Syria, should be given a “fair hearing”.

Among Ms Beeley’s beliefs are that the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group in Syria, are terrorists and that President Assad has not carried out chemical attacks.

Some members of SPM have regularly promoted such views, an investigation has found, including Professor Hayward, who has used hashtags such as #syriahoax on Twitter to disseminate claims that Assad had not carried out a chemical attack that the White Helmets had filmed.

After reading Professor Hayward’s article, Dr Ahmad used Twitter to call it “illiterate Islamaphobic drivel”, describing him as “an eccentric best known for his disgraceful conspiracy theories aimed at exonerating Syria’s murderous regime”.

His comments provoked Piers Robinson, another key SPM member and a professor of politics, society and political journalism at Sheffield, to write to Sterling accusing Dr Ahmad of bringing the university into disrepute. Other signatories include Paul McKeigue, professor of genetic epidemiology and statistics genetics at Edinburgh, and Professor Hayward.

Last night Professor Hayward strongly denied claims that he was seeking to shut down academic debate, saying: “The last thing I would ever attempt to do is shut down public debate. I have never intimidated anyone.” He said he agreed to the letter after Dr Ahmad “started intimidating a group which included some younger academics”. Regarding his use of the hashtag, he said: “I understood a hashtag to indicate a topic rather than a creed.” Dr Ahmad and other academics accuse SPM, a British-based group, of spreading online disinformation promoting views shared by Assad and Russia while failing to use verifiable evidence to back up their arguments.

Much of their concern is based on SPM’s apparent reliance on blogs and activists, such as Ms Beeley, who purport to report the truth from the ground in Syria.

Data analysis carried out on behalf of the White Helmets shows that Ms Beeley’s claims that chemical attacks in Syria were staged have been repeated and promoted by Russian networks to spread disinformation about the group. Indeed, her tweets on the White Helmets make her one of the most influential online figures circulating content about the group, according to two data analyst outfits, Graphika and Hoaxy.

Graphika found that Twitter bots linked to Russia had promoted anti-White Helmet tweets to as many as 56 million people worldwide. Members of SPM, which include ten British academics at universities such as Edinburgh, Sheffield, Bath and SOAS University of London, have retweeted such content numerous times.

Dr Ahmad accuses activists such as Ms Beeley of having used footage of the group to twist their actions. One example was when footage of the White Helmets taking part in the “mannequin challenge” – an online trend in which people filmed themselves frozen in action – was said to be evidence that they “staged” attacks.

Yesterday, Professor Hayward retweeted a post from Ms Beeley which claimed that the “White Helmets and terrorist factions staged false flag events and ‘kidnapped, drugged’ children to use as props in events”.

Scott Lucas, a professor of international politics at Birmingham University who often opposes the views of SPM members online, said their contribution to Russian and pro-Assad propaganda was dangerous for debate. “Where this gets serious is that not only are this group pushing the [same line as the Russians] but they are also trying to intimidate academics,” he said.

“It’s fine to have your own opinion …

but evidence for their views is weakly sourced and often disinformation.” Professor Lucas said their approach was “so dangerous. If you devalue facts and the basics of an investigation, you create a morass of uncertainty. Clearly we can all disagree about the war in Syria, but to deny an event like a chemical attack even occurred, by claiming they were ‘staged’, is to fall into an Orwellian world.”

Dr Ahmad said the group was failing in its “intellectual and moral commitment” to stay well informed with credible material. “Their output does not include evidence that deals with material that has been processed legitimately, either from peer review or an article going through an editorial process.”

Professor Hayward, in response to criticisms that he was aiding a Russian campaign to put out propaganda, said: “I do not accept that I am spreading any ‘disinformation’. If you read my blogs you will see that they are largely about insisting on the importance of asking questions. However, if you do find anything at all I have written that you think is disinformation, please do alert me. I am always ready – and eager – to be corrected, if I ever misunderstand anything or make any mistake. The very last thing I would wish to do is spread disinformation so I really would be grateful if you could point to anything that appears to be doing so.”

Neither he nor Professor Robinson nor Professor McKeigue commented on the letter.

Professor Robinson said of Ms Beeley’s work: “She produces information that is worthy of consideration and certainly her work on the White Helmets, along with work produced by others, raises extremely important questions for academics to research, the public to know about, and is rightly worthy of consideration.” He said the charge of spreading misinformation was incorrect. “There is ample information in the public domain which does raise serious questions regarding the chemical weapons attacks in Syria and the White Helmets. This information is available and verifiable and provides reasonable grounds to raise such questions.” Additional reporting by Krystina Shveda and Sam Blanchard Leading article, page 25

Talking heads

Piers Robinson

Professor of politics, society and political journalism at Sheffield University. His biography states he “has been cited in publications such as The Responsibility to Protect, published by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS)”, and has lectured on the topic at the “Nato Defence College in Rome, at Oxford (UK senior military commanders) and by the Stop the War Coalition”. Research interests include focusing on “organised persuasive communication and contemporary propaganda”.

Tim Hayward

Professor of environmental political theory and director of the Just World Institute, a body set up to “foster interdisciplinary research into the global challenges facing the international order, with particular attention to issues of ethics and justice”. He has written four books on human rights, ecological values and political theory, published between 1995 and 2017.

Tara McCormack

Lecturer in international relations. She taught European and comparative politics and international relations at the universities of Westminster and Brunel before Leicester University. She has contributed to the BBC, LBC, Sky, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Spiked-online and others.

Adam Larson

According to a blog post, Mr Larson is an “independent investigator in Spokane, Washington”. “He studied history at Eastern Washington University,” the biography states. “He has since 2011, on a volunteer basis, studied events in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine following western-backed regime-change operations, often under the screen name Caustic Logic. Using open sources, with an emphasis on video analysis, Mr Larson and research associates have often deconstructed or disproved alleged ‘regime’ crimes from shooting protesters to sectarian massacres.”

Vanessa Beeley

The daughter of the British diplomat and historian Sir Harold Beeley is a self-styled “investigative journalist”. She described meeting Assad in October 2017 as part of a “US peace delegation” her “proudest moment”. Her Twitter page reads: “The pursuit of peace … can never be relaxed and never abandoned.”

Conspiracy theorists hold court on social media

Tweets posted by members of the Syria, Propaganda and Media group

Undermining the White Helmets

Tim Hayward: White Helmets’ mission: “To save one headscarf is to save all?” #SyriaHoax – April 11 2017

Tara McCormack:

It is also an established fact that a) the White Helmets are basically Al Q (they provide most of the reporting from Jihadi-held areas) and b) that hospitals are used as bases by these groups. – February 5 2018 Tara McCormack: Yep White Helmets, Free Syrian Police all paid for by US and UK (as BBC Panorama piece showed) and run by Jihadis. Good grief even the BBC is showing this.- December 20 2017

Sami Ramadani:

Like all imperialist wars on defiant nations, the war on #Syria has been based on lies and fabrications. The White Helmets are the soft face of genocidal terrorism. – January 7 2018 Louis Allday: After all the revelations, for Amnesty to still boost the White Helmets is obscene, if not a surprise. – October 6 2017 Assad is innocent Tim Hayward: All the talk of proof that Assad did it and none at all produced!

– June 30 2017 Piers Robinson: Deconstructing the war propaganda … Alleged Sarin Gas Attack by President Assad is Fake News.

– April 12 2017 Louis Allday: I believe Ghouta was a false-flag incident with planted sarin and gassed hostages. Saraqeb, same. Same sarin in KS and many other clues. – August 5 2017 The West is a lying aggressor Tim Hayward: Critical questions about CNN complicity in misleading “chemical weapons” reporting – from @VanessaBeeley on the ground with them in Ghouta.

– April 8 2018 Tim Hayward: #SyriaHoax is an episode in a long running strategy of serious bullshit. “Human Rights” groups promote unjust war. – April 7 2017 Adam Larson: #Douma alleged CW attack: Info and maybe the bodies, provided by an Islamist terrorist affiliate, proponent of holding and using “infidel” hostages. – April 13 2018 Adam Larson: The lack of subtlety in their staging reeks of desperation … And yet, who is it that’s desperate in the area these days? – April 8 2018 Sami Ramadani: One basic fact never gets reported by mainstream media on #Syria: The terrorist gangs are in possession of chlorine gas & other chemical weapons. They have threatened using them & posted films of using them on rabbits – April 9 2018 Sami Ramadani: Is the bloody conflict in #Syria civil-war among Syrians or is it a US-led proxy war to destroy Syria? – June 20 2016 Louis Allday: Amnesty have been openly war-mongering on Syria. – January 16 2018 Louis Allday: Disgusting, warmongering nonsense that perpetuates the myth of a virtuous and benevolent West. Typical Guardian. – April 10 2018 Vanessa Beeley has described her meeting with President Assad last October as her “proudest moment”


London Times, April 14, 2018
Apologists for Assad hold senior positions in British universities
by Georgie Keate ; Dominic Kennedy

Senior British academics are spreading pro-Assad disinformation and conspiracy theories promoted by Russia, The Times can reveal.

They are founders of a self-styled Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (SPM) and hold posts at universities including Edinburgh, Sheffield and Leicester.

Members of the group, which includes four professors, have been spreading the slur, repeated by the Russian ambassador to Britain yesterday, that the White Helmets civilian volunteer force has fabricated video evidence of attacks by President Assad, who is backed by the Kremlin.

SPM’s advisers include an American who has challenged the US version of 9/11 as a conspiracy theory and an Australian who suggested that the CIA was behind last weekend’s chemical attack in Syria.

The White Helmets have attracted Russia’s ire for documenting the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April last year, which killed 83 people, a third of them children. Last September a UN unit found that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Syrian forces dropped a bomb dispersing sarin” on Khan Sheikhoun.

Yesterday an SPM member, Tim Hayward, professor of environmental political theory at the University of Edinburgh, retweeted a claim about an attack on eastern Ghouta that the “White Helmets and terrorist factions staged false flag events and ‘kidnapped, drugged’ children to use as props”. He added: “Witness statements from civilians and officials in Ghouta raise very disturbing questions.”

Professor Hayward has published a blog article by his colleague Paul McKeigue, a professor of genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics, which claimed that there was almost “zero likelihood” that Assad carried out chemical attacks. He used “probability calculus” to assess the evidence.

Professor Hayward has used the hashtag #Syriahoax when discussing chemical attacks in the country. The hashtag went viral after being used by alt-right figures in the US, including Mike Cernovich, a main proponent of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which alleged that Hillary Clinton supporters were involved with a child-abuse ring. The hashtag was said to have been promoted by a Russian cyberoperation. The professor also linked to a video that appeared to show chemical attack victims that, it was suggested, was staged. A rescuer removed a headscarf from an apparent victim. Professor Hayward wrote: “White Helmets’ mission: ‘To save one headscarf is to save all’ #SyriaHoax”. After being contacted by The Times, he deleted the tweet.

The American academic Mark Crispin Miller, who was said to have called the US government’s account of the 9/11 attacks a “conspiracy theory”, is on the SPM’s advisory board. Another board member is David Blackall, an Australian academic who tweeted “CIA stages gas attack pretext for Syria escalation” with a link to a blog article. Professor Hayward has written for the alternative news website 21st Century Wire, whose associate editor is Vanessa Beeley, daughter of the late British diplomat Sir Harold Beeley. She claims that the White Helmets are al-Qaeda-affiliated and, as “terrorists”, are a “legit target” for Assad’s forces.

Another member of the group, Piers Robinson, professor of politics, society and political journalism at the University of Sheffield, posted a clip in which Ms Beeley repeated the argument that the group should be a target with the note “interesting interview”.

Another SPM academic, Tara McCormack, a lecturer in international relations at Leicester University, has tweeted that it is “an established fact that a) the White Helmets are basically Al [Qaeda]”. Dr McCormack has also argued that the death of the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic while being prosecuted for war crimes in the Hague “brought an end to the farce” of his trial.

The first briefing note published by SPM, titled “Doubts about ‘Novichoks’ “, questioned whether Russia’s secret nerve agent programme ever existed. Britain has blamed Moscow for the poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury last month.

Professor Robinson, a member of SPM, told The Times: “Everything I say and write I can defend as based on good faith research and due consideration of available evidence. Vanessa Beeley produces information that is worthy of consideration and certainly her work on the White Helmets, along with work produced by others, raises extremely important questions for academics to research [and] the public to know about.”

The University of Sheffield declined to comment, saying that it needed more time to consider the matters raised.

Professor Hayward said, regarding his use of #Syriahoax: “I understood a hashtag to indicate a topic rather than a creed. I do not accept that I am spreading any ‘disinformation’. ” The University of Edinburgh said: “We recognise and uphold the fundamental importance of freedom of expression, and seek to foster a culture that enables it to take place within a framework of mutual respect.”

Adam Larson, an independent researcher with SPM, last night denied that it would promote disinformation. Such content would be “strategically designed to mislead” and wrong, he said.

Leading article, page 25 Talking heads Piers Robinson Professor of politics, society and political journalism at Sheffield University. His biography states he “has been cited in publications such as The Responsibility to Protect, published by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS)”, and has lectured on the topic at the “Nato Defence College in Rome, at Oxford (UK senior military commanders) and by the Stop the War Coalition”. Research interests include focusing on “organised persuasive communication and contemporary propaganda”.

Tim Hayward Professor of environmental political theory and director of the Just World Institute, a body set up to “foster interdisciplinary research into the global challenges facing the international order, with particular attention to issues of ethics and justice”. He has written four books on human rights, ecological values and political theory, published between 1995 and 2017.

Tara McCormack Lecturer in international relations. She taught European and comparative politics and international relations at the universities of Westminster and Brunel before Leicester University. She has contributed to the BBC, LBC, Sky, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Spiked-online and others.

Adam Larson According to a blog post, Mr Larson is an “independent investigator in Spokane, Washington”. “He studied history at Eastern Washington University,” the biography states. “He has since 2011, on a volunteer basis, studied events in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine following western-backed regime-change operations, often under the screen name Caustic Logic. Using open sources, with an emphasis on video analysis, Mr Larson and research associates have often deconstructed or disproved alleged ‘regime’ crimes from shooting protesters to sectarian massacres.”

Vanessa Beeley The daughter of the British diplomat and historian Sir Harold Beeley is a self-styled “investigative journalist”. She described meeting Assad in October 2017 as part of a “US peace delegation” her “proudest moment”. Her Twitter page reads: “The pursuit of peace … can never be relaxed and never abandoned.”

Conspiracy theorists hold court on social media Tweets posted by members of the Syria, Propaganda and Media group Undermining the White Helmets Tim Hayward: White Helmets’ mission: “To save one headscarf is to save all?” #SyriaHoax – April 11 2017 Tara McCormack: It is also an established fact that a) the White Helmets are basically Al Q (they provide most of the reporting from Jihadi-held areas) and b) that hospitals are used as bases by these groups. – February 5 2018 Tara McCormack: Yep White Helmets, Free Syrian Police all paid for by US and UK (as BBC Panorama piece showed) and run by Jihadis. Good grief even the BBC is showing this.

– December 20 2017 Sami Ramadani: Like all imperialist wars on defiant nations, the war on #Syria has been based on lies and fabrications. The White Helmets are the soft face of genocidal terrorism. – January 7 2018 Louis Allday: After all the revelations, for Amnesty to still boost the White Helmets is obscene, if not a surprise. – October 6 2017 Assad is innocent Tim Hayward: All the talk of proof that Assad did it and none at all produced!

– June 30 2017 Piers Robinson: Deconstructing the war propaganda … Alleged Sarin Gas Attack by President Assad is Fake News.

– April 12 2017 Louis Allday: I believe Ghouta was a false-flag incident with planted sarin and gassed hostages. Saraqeb, same. Same sarin in KS and many other clues. – August 5 2017 The West is a lying aggressor Tim Hayward: Critical questions about CNN complicity in misleading “chemical weapons” reporting – from @VanessaBeeley on the ground with them in Ghouta.

– April 8 2018 Tim Hayward: #SyriaHoax is an episode in a long running strategy of serious bullshit. “Human Rights” groups promote unjust war. – April 7 2017 Adam Larson: #Douma alleged CW attack: Info and maybe the bodies, provided by an Islamist terrorist affiliate, proponent of holding and using “infidel” hostages. – April 13 2018 Adam Larson: The lack of subtlety in their staging reeks of desperation … And yet, who is it that’s desperate in the area these days? – April 8 2018 Sami Ramadani: One basic fact never gets reported by mainstream media on #Syria: The terrorist gangs are in possession of chlorine gas & other chemical weapons. They have threatened using them & posted films of using them on rabbits – April 9 2018 Sami Ramadani: Is the bloody conflict in #Syria civil-war among Syrians or is it a US-led proxy war to destroy Syria? – June 20 2016 Louis Allday: Amnesty have been openly war-mongering on Syria. – January 16 2018 Louis Allday: Disgusting, warmongering nonsense that perpetuates the myth of a virtuous and benevolent West. Typical Guardian. – April 10 2018

 

45 Comments »

  1. “Paul McKeigue, professor of genetic epidemiology and statistics genetics at Edinburgh …”

    Proof that even a most fact-based, rigorous scientific training in a field of science is not a guarantee against ideological thinking riddled with bizarro factoids. Or, maybe his science is as shitty as his politics? One may wonder.

    Comment by Reza — April 15, 2018 @ 7:23 pm

  2. Answer Coalition held protests in San Francisco and other cities on Saturday. From their website:

    “For the third time in 15 years, the United States government has started a criminal war of aggression against a country and the peoples of the Middle East. Each imperial war is conducted under the pretext of a noble cause. The destruction of Iraq and Libya were conducted on the basis of false, lying propaganda. The illegal aggression against Syria likewise borrows from the George W. Bush playbook by insisting that this is all about chemical weapons.”

    As others have pointed out, the U.S. has been bombing people in Syria since 2014. I don’t recall any of these Answer folks getting so outraged or organizing any actions when the U.S. was bombing civilians to hell in Raqqa, for example, in August of 2017, when in just two days 100 civilians were killed (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/raqqa-led-strikes-kill-100-civilians-48-hours-170822073525973.html). By contrast, this latest bombing didn’t cause a single casualty.

    Likewise, not a single protest has been organized against, nor even a verbal condemnation of, Russian bombings of hospitals and heavily populated civilian areas.

    That’s Answer Coalition for you. With anti-imperialists like this, imperialism worldwide can sleep tight.

    Comment by Reza — April 16, 2018 @ 3:57 am

  3. […] He is not alone:  London Times articles about Assadist university professors […]

    Pingback by Giles Fraser, former Guardian Columnist and Present Priest of St Mary’s, Newington, Touts for Assad in Syria. | Tendance Coatesy — April 16, 2018 @ 10:16 am

  4. Unsurprisingly, the Times articles don’t attempt to challenge Profs Hayward or McKeigue on the content of their pieces or arguments. That might have been worth reading rather than this trawl through their twitter history for dubious comments shorn of any context.

    It also looks like it’s been produced by someone with little prior publishing record on international affairs too – so not much of a reputation to expose in any such exchange, but a nice little nudge up the greasy pole for her I suspect.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 16, 2018 @ 3:01 pm

  5. For me, the most useful information is the presence of Mark Crispin Miller on their board. I was aware that this berserk 9/11 Truther had hooked up with Hayward but am sure that British readers will get a better sense of how out to lunch Hayward is for inviting Miller aboard. Years ago, he was quite a smart media analyst but like a number of these people (Hersh, Chomsky, Fisk, Galloway), he seems to have lost his way.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 16, 2018 @ 3:43 pm

  6. I’m obviously not as bothered as you by the company people keep or that necessarily one person’s view on one subject necessarily falsifies their view on others. It’s the nature of the arguments they provide and the quality of their sources I generally rely upon.

    McKeigue in particular has raised clear and specific problems with the mainstream KS narrative and the JIM’s (preposterously weak) conclusions – all of which are repeatedly ignored by the MSM.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 16, 2018 @ 3:54 pm

  7. Well, he does at least have sufficient brain cells to characterize Seymour Hersh and Gareth Porter as full of beans just like I did last April. He also has the good sense to rely on DDTea’s grasp of chemistry, a doctoral student who has commented here. Unfortunately, he fails to mention that DDTea agrees with me that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack in Khan Sheikhoun. From Bellingcat:

    DDTea – October 30, 2017
    We can be very confident.

    There’s a compelling case here that 1) a Sarin attack occurred (not a single party to the conflict disagrees on this point), 2) the Sarin was delivered by an aerial bomb (based on characteristics of the crater), 3) the Sarin was manufactured from the regime’s DF stockpile (based on previously undisclosed characterization of it and analytical comparisons).

    These are the certainties about the incident. Full stop. If you’re still in the business of muddying the water to defend mass murderers, then you need to come up with an “alternative explanation” anchored around those points.

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/10/27/opcw-un-jims-leaked-report-khan-sheikhoun-tells-us-russias-denials-syrias-sarin/comment-page-1/

    Comment by louisproyect — April 16, 2018 @ 4:06 pm

  8. […] British academic named David Miller who was part of Tim Hayward’s Assadist propaganda group. (See earlier London Times articles for more on the […]

    Pingback by Castrated in the 21st Century | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — April 16, 2018 @ 5:09 pm

  9. Those 3 ‘certainties’ are, to say the least, contentious.

    1. There is consensus that some kind of sarin ‘incident’ took place, that this was an ‘attack’ is not, currently, established. That every party at some time or other accepted that there was is neither here nor there really when it comes to assessing the published and/or publically available evidence.

    2. The crater analysis is similarly dubious – the JIM’s description is actually rather equivocal. The only thing that their 3 institutions and 2 individual experts agree on is that it was not caused by an explosive device placed under-ground (which no one actually suggested anyway). Only one ‘expert’ is actually definite on the cause as an aerial dropped bomb. One of the institutions says it could have been, but could have been caused by another method and one says that the crater appears to have been tampered with. Read the JIM report again – it’s unnecessarily vague for a document produced by allegedly experienced diplomats.

    That the assertion of the only confident expert states that the bomb was dropped from between 4,000m and 10,000m was contradicted by the UN CoI testimonies that he aircraft was low enough to be identified as specifically Syrian did not trouble the JIM. Nor did the fact that their radar track analysis showed no plane got within 5km of the town (let alone the crater site).

    3. That a small amount of Sarin (or sarin like subjstance couid be produced with either stolen Syrian precursors or with markers disclosed to them by interested parties is accepted by McKeigue, but as he points out does not provide support for one account over another.

    Here are 3 ‘certainties’ that the air-dropped bomb theory fails to account for:

    1. The video evidence of the wind blowing in the opposite direction to that reported by the alleged witnesses.
    2. The radar tracks showing planes never getting within 5km of the town.
    3. That ‘victims’ were admitted to numerous medical institutions before the attack took place.

    Comment by Adrian Kent. — April 16, 2018 @ 7:50 pm

  10. Yeah, well. You can’t have it both ways. McKeigue cites DDTea as an authority but refuses to accept his verdict on Assad’s guilt. Amazing how all you Assadists contradict yourselves shamelessly. Russia and Syria say that East Ghouta is under full control. Proof of that is Robert Fisk reporting from the hospital in Douma. But Syria won’t allow OPCW investigators in because it is “too dangerous”. What the fucking hell?

    Comment by louisproyect — April 16, 2018 @ 8:10 pm

  11. Of course you can have it both ways – you can accept someone’s expertise on one aspect of an issue without necessarily having to accept their over all conclusions. If your absurd position was to hold then YOU’d have to accept Postol & Lloyd on Ghouta 2013 because of their balistics expertise alone – and I’m sure you wouldn’t like to do that would you?

    I note you haven’t addressed any of my 3 certainties.

    Comment by Adrian Kent. — April 16, 2018 @ 8:26 pm

  12. You state: “There is consensus that some kind of sarin ‘incident’ took place, that this was an ‘attack’ is not, currently, established.” Let’s say that Assad had nothing to do with it, for argument’s sake. So can you explain why rebels who have been able to make or import sarin gas have never used it on Assad’s military? If Postol et al were correct that they had it and not only used it in a “false flag” incident in 2013 but through some sort of cannon or rocket launcher, why have they not lobbed such projectiles into the government buildings in Damascus? It makes no sense whatsoever. But then again people like you are not interested in making sense. Your only goal is to absolve Assad in the same way that David Irving tried to absolve Hitler. You are morally, intellectually and politically deficient. The only question of interest is how you became this way. Have you ever been part of the organized left? Are you committed to socialism? Do you think that trolling this blog helps bring us closer to socialism? Or are you just into masturbatory crypto-Stalinism?

    Comment by louisproyect — April 16, 2018 @ 10:44 pm

  13. I wonder about Theodor Postol’s engineering expertise in ballistics as such. Per Wikipedia, Postol received his undergraduate degree in physics and his PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT. Postol worked at Argonne National Laboratory, where he studied the microscopic dynamics and structure of liquids and disordered solids using neutron, X-ray and light scattering techniques, along with molecular dynamics simulations. All that, impressive though it certainly is, has bugger all to do with ballistics per se. And while Postol did a good bit of hush-hush work on missiles for the government, it isn’t clear to what extent he actually studied the ballistics of air-to-ground missiles, which was the basis for his absurd contention that the Ghouta missile attack was staged by the rebel forces. My guess is that he may have no operational experience with such weapons at all, and has possibly never observed the actual consequence of their actual deployment or anything comparable.

    His successes in exposing fraud and fakery in the claims made for weapons systems appears to rest primarily on analysis after the fact of documentary evidence rather than on actual technical analysis as such.

    Postol’s great claim to fame on the left was in exploding so to speak the government’s propaganda about the supposedly infallible Patriot missiles during the Gulf War–one of the most shameless campaigns of lies ever conducted by any government in history. He did this primarily by contrasting the lies of the Bush administration and their toadies in the defense establishment with other information about the Patriot’s success rate that had not been made public, although he also criticised video of Patriot deployments that did not show what it was represented as showing.

    These may be the activities of a scientific and technical paper-shuffler, not of a really active research scientist or practicing engineer–or of a practiced expert in the use of the systems being criticized.

    On subsequent occasions, per Wikipedia, Postol was accused of failing to provide a clear summary of his evidence against alleged wrongdoers and of relying on photographic evidence- for which no credible source was ever presented.

    The Wikipedia article suggests that since 2000, Postol may have been to some extent misrepresenting evidence and presenting claims that he could not fully substantiate on a fairly regular basis. Since this discomfited only the MIT administration and the Defense Department, if true, it failed to have any effect on his reputation on the Left–he was telling us what we wanted to hear.

    I suspect that only a died-in-the-wool conspiracist would present the all-to-human Postol as some kind of holy juju of unquestionable technical authority at any point in the past twenty years. But this is all based on my reading of the Wikipedia article, so buyer beware.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 17, 2018 @ 1:37 am

  14. @louis (12) I’ll ignore the insults for the time being.

    Of course I can explain why the ‘rebels’ haven’t used sarin on the SAA – its for the same reason that is put forward by Prof McKeigue in his piece – the ‘managed masacre’ theory requires only limited ‘bench’ level amounts to be produced and available. All that is required is enough to kill a dozen or so people and to contaminate a few soils samples.

    There are also plenty of reasons why the ‘rebels’ would not fling it into a Damascus suburb even if they did have gallons of the stuff – they’d immediately lose any ‘moderate’ status at all and jeapodise the billions of dollars they currently receive in aid from the West.

    That neither of those two clangingly obvious possibilities occured to you makes me wonder about your judgment, long time socialist or not.

    Once again I’ll ask you to address my ‘3 Certainties’:

    1. That the wind direction is demonstrably in the direction opposite to that assumed by the JIM (inferred from witness statements).
    2. The radar tracks showing no planes getting within 5km of the town.
    3. The 1/4 of the victims admitted to the hospitals prior to the event happening.(not just in one centre, but in nearly all of them).

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 8:52 am

  15. @Farans Kalosar 13.
    1. So what of Mr Lloyd then?
    2. That Postol has a wikipedia post and recorded history of publications and professional body of work, does allow his experience and previous research to be tested in a rather more extensive manner than the anonymous DDTea, upon whose conclusion Mr Proyet places so much stead.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 8:58 am

  16. “all to human”=”all too human”

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 17, 2018 @ 10:16 am

  17. DDTEa is is a PhD student in chemistry who uses a pseudonym to protect himself from reprisals by Mr. Kent’s Russian friends, from professional enemies, and (who knows?) perhaps from the ikes of Mr. Kent. But–and this is a point that fantasists like Kent cannot grasp–DDTea’s credentials are in a sense irrelevant since the articles on Bellingcat to which he has contributed are scientifically completely explicit and based on sources noted by the author(s). Nobody has seriously disputed the account of Sarin gas production provided by Dan Kaszeta using evidence supplied in part by DDTea. They provide an explicit argument, backed up by citations presented for all the world to see–not a lot of mumbo-jumbo based on personalities and resumes.

    Postol long ago abandoned that level of rigor–even journalistic rigor–at least in his published comments on Syria. Postol’s record–much of which is shrouded in secrecy–is in fact quite obscure owing to the classified nature of much of his work and his long retirement. I pass over the fact that P. recently has come to rely on the scientifically unverifiable oozings of “the Syrian girl,” Maram Susli, whose writings do not invite the same level of plain daylight objective scrutiny as do articles on Bellingcat.

    In reality, most of the slavish Postol arselickng of the Assadist paranoiacs is based on the fact that P. holds an MIT emeritus professorship, even though his academic career (and his DoD consulting career) have both for many years been receding in the rear-view mirror.

    These people would of course use that very same credential to discredit Postol if they didn’t like what he had to say. He would be a tool of the imperialist MIT establishment.

    But more importantly, Postol’s resume, his reputation and the reputations of other holy jujus are really the only evidence that hard-core conspiracists like Kent need to build their nests of self-reinforcing dogma. That and the excretions of Vanessa Beeley and her kind as repeated by the likes of Max Blumenthal, who ought to know better.

    Such is the power of Stalinist illogic and the cult of personalities. Susceptibility to this, I think, may stem oddly enough from mutations of secularized Christian moralism or transcendentalist navel-gazing–something that has for many years controlled the mental trajectories of useful idiots at least in the U.S.. It’s a strange alliance. But that”s another subject.

    Finally, it’s interesting that Adrian Kent, tacitly acknowledging the shakiness of Postol’s crackpot theorizing of late, changes the subject with a classic bit of “whataboutery”–what about someone else?

    Per Kent, we have to discredit every single crackpot, scientific has-been, and opportunistic jumper onto the Assadist bandwagon or else they are all validated. It’s classic conspiracism.

    But now for the real issue–what about superthermite? Eh? and what about the baby seals? Humpf. Case closed.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 17, 2018 @ 11:21 am

  18. Of course I can explain why the ‘rebels’ haven’t used sarin on the SAA – its for the same reason that is put forward by Prof McKeigue in his piece – the ‘managed masacre’ theory requires only limited ‘bench’ level amounts to be produced and available.

    This is just a joke. To produce a limited “bench” level requires a vast infrastructure of both hardware and personnel, including chemical engineers, as the Aum Shinrikyo cult post should have made clear. Also, since you people are noted for describing Khan Sheikhoun and Douma as being under the control of head-chopping fanatics who could give less of a shit about their public image, why wouldn’t they use sarin gas? In other words, you are a total bullshit artist.

    And to repeat my question, who the fuck are you? What is your relationship to Marxism? Or to the left? I get the impression that you are just an idle wanker who likes to troll blogs that are not part of the Moon of Alabama blogosphere. Don’t you have anything better to do since anybody who reads mine on a regular basis would likely believe Donald Trump as much as they’d believe you.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 17, 2018 @ 11:43 am

  19. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Everyone can see how these comments have developed – my raising of Postol was absolutely not a load of whataboutery Lets have a little summary shall we?

    You posted ‘3 Certainties’ – to which I replied (and will do so again if you like).

    Having dealt with yours, I offered you ‘3 Certainties’ of my own – which you ignored and simply insisted that Prof McKeigue must accept that Assad did it because he accepted DDTea’s expertise on chemistry and DDTea says Assad did it.

    I poointed out that this was a bit silly and in passing raised the comparison of Postol AND LLOYD. I also pointed out that you’d not yet addressed my ‘3 certainties’.

    You again replied with a long post, completely ignoring my ‘3 certainties’ with a rather silly rejoinder to my refutation of the first of your 3 certainties and accompanied this with some rather silly abuse.

    I responded to this and asked you again to respond to my ‘3 Certainties’.

    You replied with a long post, this time predominantly about Postol, again completely ignoring my ‘3 Certainties’ and with another load of tiresome abuse – this time you have the fucking temerity of accusing me of what aboutery.

    I don’t give a flying toss about Postol’s reputation – please just address my ‘3 Certainties’ (as I have done yours) or admit that you can’t.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

  20. Kent: your raising of Lloyd was a case of whataboutery. I challenged your point about Postol’s expertise in ballistics–with qualifications, BTW, which your conspiracist mindset can’t grasp–and you changed the subject.

    It’s what conspiracitsts do.

    Now you are lying about it. End of discussion.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 17, 2018 @ 12:23 pm

  21. Farans Kalosar 20 – you’re right, it was ‘whataboutery’ – but only to the limited and entirely reasonable extent that I had named him in the very comment to which you were replying. It wasn’t changing the subject – it was reminding you of the subject. Can your limited company-line mindset stretch to that you tit?

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 12:59 pm

  22. 18. Proyet – again you’re missing the point – the infrastructure required to produce a small amount of sarin has little evidential value in determining between the air-dropped bomb and managed massacre hypotheses. An amount small enough to provide sufficient quantity to contaminate a series of samples could be produced anywhere and smuggled to the scene relatively safely poked up half a dozen moderately sized jihadi ringpieces.

    A completely plausible explanation, consistent with the managed masacre theory, for why they didn’t shower West Alleppo with it is that they only ever had half a dozen arseholes worth and wanted to use it to best effect.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 1:16 pm

  23. Proyet 18 – As for who the fuck I am, I’m a middle-aged data scientist with a PhD in Psychology and a long working experience of assessing written reports and interpreting statistics. I’ve got just enough time in my schedule to download and read some of the reports upon which headlines are based and think I have a reasonable ability to see when people are trying to spin me a line.

    I came across your blog in particular as it came up in a search for a Times article that I’d heard about but not read due to the paywall (my thanks to you for that at least). I posted a short comment on it’s content, you replied, I replied and here we are.

    I suppose I’m of the left, a recent re-joiner of the UK Labour party – likely due more to an MMT rather than a Marxist bent.

    My interest in Syria stemmed from a general mistrust of the corporate media and being repeatedly concerned by the obvious contradictions that appeared to go by without comment – specifically the desperate letter to Obama from 4 paediatricians in Aleppo making BBC headlines only a couple of weeks after they’d carried headlines that the last one there had been killed and an Amnesty report that managed to accuse the SAA of both targeting hospitals AND bombing ‘indiscriminately’ in the same raid.

    I read the laughable HRW ‘Death By Chemicals Report’ (which to this day states that the crater was the size of a teaspon), wrote something on it and did so again about the JIM report (both available on medium).

    That good enough for you?

    Now please address my ‘3 Certainties’, there’s a good chap.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 1:43 pm

  24. An amount small enough to provide sufficient quantity to contaminate a series of samples could be produced anywhere and smuggled to the scene relatively safely poked up half a dozen moderately sized jihadi ringpieces.

    —-

    You are obviously as ignorant about the technical challenges involved in transporting sarin as you are about the challenges in manufacturing it. Aren’t you aware that you can’t put this stuff in a bottle and sneak it across the border? You need the precursor compounds to be stored separately and under controlled environmental conditions. Also, if they had the means to smuggle it into Syria (from Turkey as Hersh alleges), why wouldn’t they simply ask their extremist suppliers to send them enough to weaponize for a major assault on Assad’s troops?

    Comment by louisproyect — April 17, 2018 @ 1:47 pm

  25. If I find the time, I’ll answer the first of your 2 certainties but meanwhile here’s what I wrote about the third:

    Parry’s November 9th article points out that while the OPCW identifies the attack as taking place between 6:30 and 7am, there were reports of 57 victims being treated as early as 6am. In the words of the OPCW, this was attributable to either faulty record-keeping or a “staging incident”. If you kept an open mind about faulty record-keeping being to blame, you would likely be convinced by the OPCW adding that 52 out of the 57 victims were actually admitted at 7am despite what was contained in the hospital’s records: “In 10 such cases, patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 125 km away from Khan Shaykhun at 0700 hours while another 42 patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 30 km away at 0700 hours.” Neither Parry nor Cook let such inconvenient data influence their foregone conclusion that Assad was innocent of all charges. Probably they would argue that the 5 remaining victims unaccounted for in the 6:30 cut-off point was all the proof you needed.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/24/the-witchfinders/

    Comment by louisproyect — April 17, 2018 @ 1:56 pm

  26. Proyet 24 – are those methods of carriage necessary for ‘sarin like’ substances too? That’s as far as the OPCW were able to go with their analyses.

    As for why wouldn’t the jihadis get whoever it was to make a load, there are plenty of reasons – none of which have any relevance to hassessing between the managed massacre and air-dropped bomb hypotheses. Do keep up.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 1:59 pm

  27. are those methods of carriage necessary for ‘sarin like’ substances too?

    Storage

    Production of chemical agents in the past has anticipated their long-term storage since (in the instance of United States at least) they were viewed as deterrent weapons and by policy would not have been employed except in response to aggressor use. This also meant that the agents and/or their weapons of employment might be stored for extensive periods of time. The life span of chemical weapons was first expected to be a decade. The requirement was later increased to 20 years when it became clear that munitions were likely to be stored at least that long.

    Chemical agents can either be stored in bulk quantities or loaded into munitions. With the nerve agents in particular, the quality of the initial material must be excellent and they must be stored under inert conditions with the absolute exclusion of oxygen and moisture. Generally an overlay of dry helium was employed to leak check munitions. A small amount of stabilizer (2-4 percent) was also used to extend agent life span. The United States stored agent in both bulk containers and in munitions. In the latter instance, the munitions were normally stored in revetted bunkers. This was particularly true when explosives and propellants were uploaded in the munitions. Storage of agents in explosive, uploaded munitions has both advantages and disadvantages. The principal advantage is speed of use when the munition is needed. There is no labor-intensive or time-consuming uploading process, and most munitions can be handled and shipped as if they were conventional munitions. The principal disadvantage is that explosives and propellants become part of the “system,” and their storage and deterioration may complicate the handling of the chemical weapons. An illustrative case is seen in the 115-mm M55 rockets where burster, fuse, and rocket propellant cannot be easily and/or safely separated from the agent warhead before demilitarization. As a consequence, demilitarization is far more complicated and costly than it would be otherwise.

    https://fas.org/programs/bio/chemweapons/production.html

    Comment by louisproyect — April 17, 2018 @ 2:06 pm

  28. Proyet 25 – thanks for the link. Yes it could be poor time keeping, but as McKeigue’s approach points out, we can make assessments of the likelihood of such errors occuring in one site and then extend this over multiple sites and from this see how it favours one account over another. That they all appear to have recorded the individuals early is unlikely uner one scenario less so under another.

    The problem here, of course, is that the JIM themselves chose not to conduct any such analysis, which speaks volumes of their approach.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 17, 2018 @ 2:11 pm

  29. As far as certainty 2 is concerned, an SU-22 flying at 500 mph can cover 5km in about 10 seconds, A radar map consists of a series of blips, not a continuous line as drawn on a piece of paper, McKeigue notwithstanding. I understand why he wants to absolve Assad, as do you. This is what I would call abnormal psychology. As someone with a PhD in the field, you might want to search for a Krafft-Ebbing type expert who specializes in political pathology.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 17, 2018 @ 3:17 pm

  30. A psychologist! One of the great tradition that includes Stanley Milgram and so many other unassailable heroes of science and the cause of humanity! Can you imagine that anyone here will be even slightly impressed by that–or by your John Bull “be a good chap” nonsense?

    Of course it was whataboutery–you failed to answer my point and changed the subject. It’s what conspiracists do. Lloyd was Postol’s collaborator in the absurd East Ghouta fabrication, which has been pretty decisively refuted–that is beyond serious dispute. I was merely pointing out that, per Wikipedia, Postol may have been in decline for some time after his success in refuting the lies about the Patriot missiles–an achievement for which I give his younger self full credit, but which hardly qualifies him as an authority on every aspect of weapons systems with which he has probably no operational acquaintance. Very likely in any case his decline was in full swing for some time before anyone on the left noticed it and he discovered the charms of The Syrian Girl.

    Your “three certainties” are hardly that–wind direction inferred from witnesses–the effect on Sarin dispersion in any case dependent on conditions on the ground, where the presence of Sarin poisoning which even you admit would render your hearsay about wind direction moot; questionable radar graphs as vs. the demonstrated capabilities of Assad’s aircraft; a bald and unverifiable assertion (what is the source?) that 1/4 of victims were admitted to hospitals after you say the incident occurred (which would in any case leave the vast majority of victims squarely in the frame of the incident). These are not even assertions of unquestionable fact, the bearing of the “certainties” on the Sarin incident is by no means clear–this is certainly not some sort of shining path to the exculpation of your beloved leader.

    Surely any release of the gas at ground level would have been affected by wind no matter how the gas got there, so if this divine wind that your witnesses have conjured up made an effective Sarin release impossible, how could there have been a “sarin incident” at all, as you concede?

    Enough of this tedious exchange. Do run along now, there’s a good chap–chop, chop! Quick as you can! Don’t keep the good folk at the madhouse waiting!

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 17, 2018 @ 7:51 pm

  31. Thanks for your considered response and for your view of the wide, varied and fascinating discipline(s) of psychology. I couldn’t give a gnat’s cumbubble about who here is impressed or otherwise by my brief
    CV, but it seemed of some (sweary) interest to Proyet so I did him the courtesy of answering him.

    I’ll leave it to others to assess your whataboutery claims – the facts stand above – I mentioned (in passing) two authors, you had a wiki-rant about one of them, I asked you about the other, you haven’t replied.

    Your comment on wind direction is interesting – that we should ignore the confirmed video evidence of smoke movement at both high AND ground level in favour of some witness testimonies is so perverse I don’t know where to start.

    Here’s a thought though – if we follow your logic we’d have to accept as fact that the planes flew low enough over KS to be identified as a specific Syrian type – something claimed by a number of witnesses (see the UN Commission of Enquiry report) – but then that would blow a big hole in the JIM’s medium-to-high altitude air-dropped bomb conclusions wouldn’t it? Which is likely why the JIM chose to ignore these previous testimonies in their report.
    I’m not sure where I admit presence of sarin poisoning would render anything moot – the managed massacre hypothesis holds that no such large release took place.

    Actually bugger this, Mr Proyet and I are discussing the work of Prof McKeigue – your questions indicate you’ve not read the Prof’s work – or at least completely failed to understand what the managed masacre hypothesis actually entails (amongst other things NO large scale release of sarin) – so you’re right, enough of this tedious exchange.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 18, 2018 @ 7:44 am

  32. @Proyet 29. Of course these radar tracks consist of a series of points, but the planes don’t magically teleport from one to another FFFS. You can perfectly reasonably infer a flight path from them – and helpfully the JIM did just that – confirming that a plane got no closer than ‘about 5km’ to the town.

    So far in exchanges on this site I’ve been accused of 9/11 troofiness, moral and psychological deficiencies, political pathology and being an Assad lover.

    FWIW I’d happily see Assad waterboarded for his involvement in the global US black-site torture programme (although he’d have to wait in line behind a long list of it’s actual architects) – I just don’t want to see the country he current leads dismembered and the flaming remnants handed over to jihadi cunts on the basis of plainly trumped up horseshit. That shouldn’t be too hard to understand.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 18, 2018 @ 8:02 am

  33. Dear Mister Doctor:

    I too am a guest here, and perhaps on a rather short lease at present, so I will refrain from calling you a shitsmeared aresetwat. Nevertheless, you change your story and your “evidence” with every conjectural shift in the winds of your fantasies.

    If anyone was killed by Sarin, that is an atrocity and wind direction cannot rule it out, which makes the wind “certainty” irrelevant to the question of whether there was or wan’t an attack–a question, quite frankly, that has been frigged up disingenuously by the red-brown gang in the face of pretty overwhelming evidence to the contrary, which Louis P. and others have presented in great detail. Wind might equally well have rendered an aerial attack–which almost certainly did occur–less effective than it might have been with no wind. And a release from the ground, once the gas was in the air, would have been no less affected by wind than a release from a missile exploding on or near ground-level.

    And yet you take this fragmentary bit of inconclusive evidence–suggestive at best–as absolute proof that there could have been no aerial attack, while simultaneously both maintaining and beginning to deny what you previously stoutly maintained, that there was a sarin “incident.” You’ve also changed the basis of your wind “hypothesis” from witness testimony to video of smoke–typical of the eternally shifting sands of your argumentation, such as it is.

    You have no real evidence of anything, but exemplify the neurotic love of uncertainty that characterizes the incurable conspiracist. Vague details, conjecture, and fractional truths that are never quite the same from one moment to the next will always constitute evidence in the minds of such people.

    It’s all superthermite (figuratively speaking–try to keep up) and a fog of doubt diversified by “questions” that miraculously become “certainties” when that is convenient.

    As for me, for what it’s worth, you have not really responded to anything I said except to refer to McWhosis as a “professor.” That’s your idea of evidence–it all revolves around personalities and resumes.

    Contemptible (or pitiable).

    Here is a sample of the elegant dialog that has been occurring between you and (as you now see it) your new best friend Mr. Proyect:

    you are just an idle wanker who likes to troll blogs that are not part of the Moon of Alabama blogosphere … .

    You have expended many column inches complaining bitterly about this kind of thing: now you have magically forgotten it and are having tea with a colleague in the Senior Common Room.

    I applaud Louis’ P’s patience in responding to your alleged “evidence.” Nobody in the blogoshpere has a better grasp of these details than he does, and I am confident that he will be able to dispel the fog of doubt that your gang are at such pains to create in the minds of people whose opinions, unlike yours, actually do matter.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 18, 2018 @ 12:19 pm

  34. @Farans 33.

    By will or ignorance you’ve completely failed to understand the managed masacre hypothesis. That there was a ‘sarin incident’ does not imply a large release of gas or indeed any release at all. All that it requires is sufficient ‘sarin or sarin-like’ substance to contaminate some soil samples and the blood of a few individuals who may or may not then be killed by it.

    The wind direction is irrelevant to the managed masacre hypothesis – but it is terminal for the mainstream narrative which relies purely upon witness testimony alone that there was a large cloud of gas, released from a specific crater, that moved in a specific direction and killed lots of people in that direction. That testimony clearly states where the alleged victims were found – but with the wind clearly moving in the opposite direction those testimonies can be dismissed.

    You can bang on about Postol as much as you like – I only mentioned him in passing by way of analogy for Proyect’s view on DDTea and accepting Assad’s guilt. I made no comment on whether or not I agreed with him. FWIW I think he, and particular Lloyd were correct on Ghouta, but he has since somewhat jumped the shark. I won’t be drawn into any discussion on his and Lloyd’s Ghouta views here though as life’s too short and the KS managed masacre hypothesis does not rely on his or their evidence in any way – indeed it fits the evidence very much better than both Hersh and Porter’s versions too.

    There is BOTH video and witness evidence on the wind and weather conditions that contradict the mainstream narrative – I have not jumped from one to the other – do you expect anyone in a blog comment to lay out every aspect of their evidence as the start? That’s ludicrous.

    Quite what you’re trying to prove by quoting Proyect calling me a wanker is beyond me.

    Anyway, can I suggerst you go and read Paul McKeigues posts on evaluating a mountain of evidence if you want a more complete dismantling of the official narrative. Even if you dismiss his assumptions (which are all explicit) I think your reasoning skills could benefit from being introduced to the method.

    Oh and in a thread in where my contribution started with me pointing out the Times writer’s failure to address any of Hayward and 0McKeigue’s substantive points, it’s funny that no one here seems able to either.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 18, 2018 @ 1:37 pm

  35. Dear Kent: “nobody here has addressed Professor McCock’s mountain of evidence.” Nobody here? What happened to your breathless idyll with your new friend LP, whom you were praising so fulsomely a few loud farts ago?

    We’re waiting breathlessly for you to tell us who ate the strawberries.

    Crackpot.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 18, 2018 @ 5:08 pm

  36. Of course what I was trying to say eludes you. In the final analysis, you’re just not very bright.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 18, 2018 @ 5:11 pm

  37. The paradigm case for this kind of paranoid thinking is all the false flag nonsense about the 9/11 WTC collapse.

    Here is an example:

    https://www.gaia.com/lp/content/911-false-flag/

    If you swallow this, you’ll swallow anything

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 18, 2018 @ 5:19 pm

  38. If you really want to dig into mountains of evidence, I can also suggest this:

    https://theflatearthsociety.org/home/index.php/blog/early-flat-earth-theory

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 18, 2018 @ 5:33 pm

  39. @Farans Kalosar 35, 36, 37…

    Thanks for taking the time to prove my point. Much appreciated.

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 19, 2018 @ 8:48 am

  40. For a reasoned discussion of historical Assadist gas attacks, in addition to the Bellingcat pieces cited earlier, the following balanced account in the The Guardian is helpful:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/30/sarin-was-used-in-syria-khan-sheikhun-attack-says-chemical-weapons-watchdog

    Since, to cover up the obvious truth about their homicidal record and agenda, the Russians and Assad have until recently excluded the OPCW from the scene of their latest mass murder, the current picture is slightly murkier, but still offers no prima facie reason to resort to the sort of Grassy Knoll, Third Shooter, Magic Bullet, nano-thermite, or Flat Earth “hypotheses” that, in classic paranoid fashion, will always find an elaborate rationale and a ton of “evidence” from highly credentialed nutjobs to cast grave doubt on matters about which there is in reality relatively little uncertainty.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/18/why-does-syria-still-have-chemical-weapons

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/18/middleeast/syria-opcw-inspectors-intl/index.html

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/17/syria-crisis-medics-intimidated-over-douma-gas-attack

    This is not a push-me, pull-you situation. Donald Trump, about whom it is not possible to say anything too derogatory, is attempting–like all Republicans and Democrats as well as Labour and the Tories, since the beginning of time–to profit politically by lobbing a few missiles in and killing a few more Syrians (who cares about these “shit” people or their “shit” country really anyway) in a manner calculated to gratify the bloodlust and adolescent belligerence of white people without materially affecting the situation on the ground or disturbing any profitable business relationships, however illegal.

    His acts reflect a casual racism and disregard for the human life that is fully equivalent to similar defects in Putin, Assad, and all their kind.

    This does not alter the clear case against Assad and Putin, which has been built up over years from numerous sources despite all the efforts by liars, stooges, and professional neurotics to cover it up and change the subject.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 19, 2018 @ 2:59 pm

  41. Thanks for the links, but I’m afraid that they don’t really address my (or Prof McKeigue’s) problems with the mainstream narrative. In fact, they rather nicely highlight some of the problems with it – which might be of interest to Louis Proyect if he’s not lost interest…

    The first one – the Guardian piece on the OPCW FFM report, for example, has a quote (towards the end) from someone who says that they’ve got fragments from the alleged bomb and that they’d been passed on to the investigators. The FFM, however, actually state that they hadn’t seen them, but that they had been assured that they had been secured – a minor contradiction perhaps, but it doesn’t say much for the Guardian writer’s comprehension).

    When you read the JIM report though, it’s not actually clear that they ever received these fragments – no where does it state that they had. I wrote some notes on this a while ago, which I’ve edited and added below. All the ‘analysis’ they reported could simply refer to the objects as they are seen in the images – indeed the wording suggests that this is precisely what their analyses are refering to.

    There simply is no reason for this ambiguity – it’s all just part of their slippery act – here are the relevant paragraphs (from Annex 2).
    “45. As the site where the sarin was released on the morning of 4 April 2017 was of particular importance to the investigation, the Mechanism undertook extensive efforts to collect photographs and videos of the location and to obtain expert
    analysis of its characteristics from several independent sources.
    46. Original video footage and photographs of the impact location taken early in the morning on 4 April 2017 by a witness interviewed by the Mechanism, which were determined by a forensic institute to have been recorded between 0804 and
    0917 hours, showed the crater and a deformed piece of metal protruding from it. The crater was estimated by forensic experts to have a diameter of app roximately 1.5 to 1.65 m and a depth of between 42 and 51 cm. The videos and photographs showed the crater to contain debris of rock and asphalt, fragments of metal and a circular metal object that appeared to be a munition filler cap. Remnants of green paint were observed on both the deformed piece of metal and the filler cap.”

    So no indic ation at all that they’ve received the fragments there.

    The JIM then devote a few paragraphs to their analysis of the crater (by the way, of their 5 different sources on this ONLY ONE is definite of it being caused by an airdropped bomb and rules out excavation – NONE of the others rule out excavation as a possibility. The JIM analysis focusses predominantly on the likelihood of airdropped vs ground located device).

    When they return to discussing the munitions, they’re already confidently referring to one of the fragments as ‘the filler cap’. Hardly impartial is it?

    “55. As described in paragraph 46 above, two objects of interest that were visible in photographs and videos of the crater were analysed by the Mechanism. These were the filler cap from a chemical munition and a deformed piece of metal protruding
    from deep within the crater.

    56. According to information obtained by the Mechanism, the filler cap, with two closure plugs, is uniquely consistent with Syrian chemical aerial bombs. The Mechanism was provided with an assessment of the filler cap and with chemical
    analysis showing sarin and a reaction product of sarin with hexamine that can be formed only under very high heat. Information was also received that addit ional metal fragments collected from the crater might correspond to parts of Syrian aerial
    chemical munitions.

    57. The two energetic-materials experts engaged by the Mechanism reported that the size and thickness of the metal piece protruding from the crater indicated that it had been the casing of an aerial bomb measuring between 300 and 500 mm in
    diameter.

    58. The munition remnants recovered from the crater by unidentified individuals are assessed as being associated with an air-delivered chemical bomb. Specific munition remnants, particularly the tailfin, could not be recovered. The absence of a
    chain of custody relating to the munition remnants diminishes their probative value.

    As I said, the JIM rather give themselves away by happily refering to one of the fragments as ‘the filler cap’ throughout, but give no proof that they’ve actually received it for inspection and analysis. Para 57 in particular suggests and analysis of the images – NOT the fragments themselves. Isn’t it amazing too that of all the parts of the bomb one of the two large parts that don’t completely disappear just happens to be the ‘filler cap’.
    Why do you think anyone would use the term ‘recovered from the crater’ if they could confidently state something like ‘provided to the OPCW’? ‘Recovered from the crater’ could mean as little as picking it up and putting it on the pavement.
    Paragraph 56 is particularly slippery – so I’ll break it down.
    “56. According to information obtained by the Mechanism, the filler cap, with two closure plugs, is uniquely consistent with Syrian chemical aerial bombs.”
    [What information from whom, and on what basis did they make the assessment?]

    “The Mechanism was provided with an assessment of the filler cap and with chemical analysis showing sarin and a reaction product of sarin with hexamine that can be formed only under very high heat.”
    [There is nothing here to say whether these two pieces of information are in any way linked. What does the chemical analysis actually refer to? I’m sure the intention is for us to believe that the analysis refers to samples taken from the fragment – but it doesn’t actually say that does it? What was the assessment of the filler cap? If the fragment was available why were no metaurgical analyses carried out?]

    “Information was also received that aditional metal fragments collected from the crater might correspond to parts of Syrian aerial chemical munitions.”
    [What information, what fragments, where are they and why couldn’t we see them in the earlier photos?]

    A refutatioon of all of this would be simple – providing evidence of the fragments themselves that don’t come from images at the scene – anything that places them with the OPCW at all. I’ve not come across anything so far – have any of you in your extensive analyses?

    Assume for a moment that the OPCW were NOT provided with the promised fragments – what might that say about the reliability of their sources? What would the JIM’s attempt to cover this up with sly linguistic tricks say about their impartiality?

    Like I say, disproving my contention is simple.
    I
    The Bellingcat piece you link to only comments on the leaked draft by the way – there are changes in the final version).

    The FFM itself confirms that their conclusion that a large gas discharge took place comes only from witnesses – `that no site inspection took place, and they chose not even to attempt to infer the weather conditions from the video materials available.

    The other pieces you link to all accept the conclusions of the JIM – and for the above reasons, can be dismissed.

    You can read the rest of my criticisms of the JIM report here – it really is a load of shite:
    View story at Medium.com

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 20, 2018 @ 3:31 pm

  42. […] A group of academics in England dedicated to the Herculean task of clearing Bashar al-Assad’s name has been stung by a couple of articles in Rupert Murdoch’s London Times. Since the articles are both behind a paywall and germane to the analysis I will be putting forward in this article, I have used my retiree benefits from Columbia University to penetrate the paywall and make them available to the general public. […]

    Pingback by Syria and neo-McCarthyism | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — April 20, 2018 @ 5:02 pm

  43. My advice to my regular readers is not to bother answering Kent here. His concerns are of largely a technical matter and do not engage with the broader class questions in Syria that are germane to Marxists. I am not going to bother answering him myself since it is a chore equivalent to rebutting cases made for “controlled demolitions” on 9/11, etc.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 20, 2018 @ 5:15 pm

  44. @LouisProyect 43.

    Hahahahahahaaa! That’s absolutely f***ing priceless. Cheerio!

    Comment by Adrian Kent — April 21, 2018 @ 9:09 am

  45. […] weekend’s front-page in The Times, “Apologists for Assad hold senior positions in British universities” (April 14), provides another example of such distortions on the part of the corporate media. The […]

    Pingback by Assad’s Confused Apologists: Academics in The Times – Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist — April 21, 2018 @ 6:27 pm


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